White River Electric’s GM testifies on energy regulations at Grand Junction field hearing

Earlier this week, Dick Welle, general manager of White River Electric Association (Meeker, Colo.) testified in front of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade at a field hearing in Grand Junction, Colo., regarding excessive regulations and how they are affecting the cooperative.

The subcommittee also heard testimony from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator for Region 8, James Martin, as well as local and state officials and local energy business owners and employees.

Dick Welle, White River Electric Association general manager

Welle told the committee that currently, 15 percent of its retail residential rate is allocated to the cost of regulatory compliance and proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency could increase the regulatory costs on White River Electric’s consumer-owners.

“I am here today to give a voice to our membership and our mission; in homes that Congress hears our plea for balanced, reasonable regulation that improves and incentivizes the overall electric utility industry,” Welle said during his testimony. “Regulation that kills jobs, the economy and jeopardizes the societal and economic prosperity that is at the historical heart of this industry is unacceptable.”

As part of his testimony, Welle provided an extensive background of the Tri-State member cooperative, including information on the impact of area energy production and processing. “Over ninety-five percent of White River Electric’s load is made up of industrial consumers; specifically related to coal, natural gas and oil production and processing,” he stated. “Overreaching regulation that abandons scientific and common sense will be a direct threat to the economic stability in Northwest Colorado.”

Specifically, the hearing examined the coal combustion residuals proposed rule (75 Federal Register 35127-35264), the proposed rule to limit mercury and other air toxics from coal-burning electricity generators (76 Federal Register 24976-25147), the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and potential regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the natural gas industry. The hearing also focused on the permitting and leasing process of the Department of the Interior.

Welle concluded his testimony by stressing the importance of the “common sense philosophy of ‘think before you vote’” and urged the committee members to consider the costs before passing any further regulation.

“While lofty goals for regulation may be public interest, public safety and environment; every legislator should be challenged to ensure that each vote for further regulation is necessary, based on common sense, allows for industry innovation and excellence without punishing the end consumer and the economy,” he said. “This balancing act is not easy; but our forefathers believed that electricity was essential for economic and societal stability and prosperity – we have an obligation to carry that light bulb into the future.”

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